abortion

Enclosed you will find a very personal essay struggling with the issue of abortion, an issue that keeps alternately tapping me on the shoulder/kicking me in the gut this election season.  I have watched my teenage daughter try to come to terms with this amidst the fierce divisiveness, and black /white line-in-the-sand drawing, the on or against the side of God shaming, that this one issue seems to manifest more than any other. This issue clouds our ability to see objectively, even as it reveals clearly the subjective nature of our values. It is as if we can look the other way on a vast array of violent choices, which are made each day, but not this one, and many good people throw themselves onto this wagon in defense (of either self or their candidate of choice, pardon the pun). It becomes the scapegoat for a culture of violence and the target of our attack upon each other.

 Read this if you will. Please. It was written the morning after lying down to sleep with the question haunting me, then finally being released, unanswered, to the universe, offered up to be held by Love, in order that I might find peace enough to sleep. 

Vicki Kensinger

532 Old Farm Rd

Palmyra, PA  17078

717-838-7560

    

Each day we make choices that, consciously or not, affirm or deny life. Each day we weigh the importance of our very real, or merely perceived, needs and something, often something human, somewhere, is sacrificed or given so that we can have them met. It is the way of life and death, this cyclicality, this reciprocality, this known and unknown balancing of the energies that exist here, and every day we make choices as to how we are going to live in cooperation with this reality along the sacred circle we call life.

 

Would that every choice we make be given the same degree of deep consideration for the life sacrifice that is being made for our survival (or our comfort) as the decision to abort a child, the world would perhaps be in peaceful balance. Would that every act of violence executed be weighed so heavily, so intimately, so sacredly… from the taking of our food to the waging of a war… the totality of violence in the world would likely be mitigated. Would that we would always assume such personal and direct responsibility over and against the perpetuation of violence, perhaps then the countless ways in which we directly and indirectly, blindly and unconsciously, contribute to a violent world would  diminish.

 

I must wonder why, why the great divisiveness, this stark alignment on opposite poles on this one issue, abortion.  Why is this one the whipping boy? It seems we must always single out a desperate individual, group, or enemy upon which to heap the blame of our communal failures. We tirelessly, diligently attack the symptoms of pain with weapons of mass destruction rather than healing the underlying disease.

 

I believe, as in all things that when we, as a culture or as individuals, choose to demonize another, it is always based in fear, and not in love. Our attacks and accusations are never based in compassion, rather our labels and our stereotypes are always an attempt to dehumanize the other so that we don’t have to face ourselves, and our fears. 

 

Our primal fear perhaps is death and the issue of abortion penetrates this fear so very deeply. That another could hold ultimate power over our ability to be or not to be leaves us facing the reality of our own powerlessness on this planet. Until we turn inward and come to know our true identities as something more than our physical bodies, to understand who we really are and what we are doing here for this short time, we can never truly escape this fear, for we cannot begin fathom that we never cease to exist simply because one particular form of our being may disintegrate.

 

Our fear of death is deeply rooted in our fear of rejection.  We are all wounded by the belief that we are somehow unacceptable and unworthy of being loved. Perhaps this wound is indeed deeper than the fear of death, this basic fear of our potential unlovability. Sadly, the fear of abandonment due to our unacceptability, the fear of being unwelcome in a cold universe is too often inflicted, perpetuated, and reflected by our religions with doctrines such as hell, atonement, eternal damnation, final judgment  and apocalypse.  Somehow the idea that a mother, who represents for us the perfect Love, could choose to destroy her own innocent child reinforces this fear. A mother’s love is held up as the Ideal, one that embraces and receives all that we are regardless of the circumstances in which we come, and thus becomes the projection of our hope that the universe is likewise welcoming and safe.

 

Today, we live in a world where we have separated ourselves from deeply experiencing the cycles of life and death. We live in a world where we do not have to look at the reality that we live each day because something else dies. Our births and deaths are sanitized and segregated from our awareness; our children are born and our grandparents die in separate facilities. Gone are the days when the thoughtful, careful cutting down of a tree for warmth or shelter was acknowledged and appreciated as gift. Instead, we clear-cut entire forests separated from the act. The sacred taking of an animal life for sustenance has been replaced by the mechanical slaughter of millions to feed our appetites. We have lost touch with our deepest understandings of the cycles and the interrelatedness of being, the delicate balances of walking appropriately gently and gratefully in our world. We buy our food at the grocery, never seeing either the willing sacrifice (of earth or human) or the oppressive exploitation (of same) that may go into supplying our voracious need for food. We buy clothes at Wal-mart, gas up our SUV’s, move into homes in new developments, choosing to remain blind to both the sacrifice of earth and the suffering of human life that may exist in order to satisfy our comfort.

 

And yet we focus our attention sharply for some reason upon the woman or the woman-child who chooses, perhaps for her own survival, perhaps to spare the suffering of her unborn child  (and yes, perhaps sometimes, for her own comfort) to sacrifice the life burgeoning within her. We want to name for her when that sacrifice is acceptable, define what is and is not survival. But are we willing to draw that same line for ourselves?

 

Each day we are given the choice in this world to see what it is that looks so very different than ourselves out there and seek ways to somehow join with that seemingly apparent opposite in an act of lovemaking. Each day we are thus given the opportunity to create the burgeoning hope of new life on this planet. Yet each day, in countless ways we instead choose to abort that hope with death. Each day we choose implicitly or explicitly to further suffering.

 

Where is the suffering in abortion? Where is the pain? It is perhaps in reality somewhat contained … within the woman who makes the choice and those who share with her, her grief. This is a very personal kind of grief, an intimate kind of suffering, a solitary kind of sorrow. When an embryo or fetus is destroyed, the overwhelming pain of that loss is borne heavily, deeply, solely by that child’s mother (an agony I fear is aggravated by the projections and the unforgiving judgments of a culture), but the pain of loss ends there. She alone bears the responsibility and the repercussions of her choice, as the tiny bundle of life cells that have come to represent hope are forfeited. There is no stream of human beings inundated with loss because of that choice, no far-reaching arms of suffering, starvation, exploitation, pain and death; no families, villages, homelands devastated; no children left fatherless, motherless, homeless, living in fear, no mass thoughtless acts of violence taken without consideration of the cost. Indeed, as always, the ones who most directly experience the emptiness in their lives feel the pain of death most profoundly. Alas, it can only be observed and critiqued from afar.

 

And yet a dialogue of healing can take place between the mother and the child, a dialogue of understanding, a dialogue of grace. Some Christians seem to have forgotten that they believe in a God who gives choice and infuses choice with grace, that we are truly equal partners with the divine here in this place. Some Christians seem to have forgotten that they believe that death is not the final answer, that God uses our choices to recycle hope. For us to believe that a woman’s choice to say ‘no’ could not be embraced by God is to make God too small. For us to believe that God would not recycle the spirit once breathed into those unique cells is to put faith in a God of finality and death.

 

Some say it is the innocence of life stolen that most pains them in the huge psychic struggle to accept the reality of abortion. I suppose I fail to completely understand this argument as, for me, it pales next to the very real human suffering I see inflicted upon the millions of innocents who walk this planet, a suffering of macrocosmic scale. Real human suffering is always from loss or lack, loss of something loved or lack of something required…. food, love, safety, health, honor, value, opportunity. Where, in this equation, is the suffering of the aborted child?  What has he loved and lost? Is a fetus even capable of knowing love and loss?

 

Perhaps. My experience tells me that the amount of love experienced by the unborn in the dialogue that takes place between mother and child in the wrenching decision to abort, the amount of understanding required by the fetus to say “yes” to that choice is beyond our capacity to understand.  You may say he has been stripped of the very opportunity to experience loves and losses, the accompanying phenomenal experience of beauty and growth that the stuff of life creates. Yet, if the meaning of life is to grow in love, how much more growth in love can there be but to lay down your life in sacrifice for the benefit of another, but to truly understand and receive the whisper of a mother who says, ‘I can’t’. I don’t have what it takes to feed you (in the many ways that a human being deserves to be fed), to love you, to give you the life you deserve. Could this perhaps be the most profound expression of a mother’s love? You may say she is playing God to make that choice, but I say God grants that choice. We again make God too small, allowing our fear to overwhelm our deepest knowing and our hope, by believing that God could not breathe that same invitation into another physical being, and we limit Love’s potential by making our God into one-dimensional God of one chance.

 

Eight times I have been gifted with life growing in my womb. Not all of them were chosen or conceived consciously, nor willingly, nor sadly even lovingly. Twice I have suffered the labor and loss of 2nd trimester miscarriages, felt the ripping of hope, the stillness where there once was movement. Twice I have been faced with the decision to abort. Once I said yes. Once I said no. Yet, five times, my body has participated with the divine in the bringing of new life into this world. In the nurture of these five, I pray that I have chosen love more often than I have chosen fear, though being human I am aware that I have too often been intimate with fear. However, I pray to a God who understands choices made in fear and choices made in love and who understands which are which, a judgment I suspect is often contrary to our smallish understanding.

 

Can it be a loving choice to say, ‘no.’, ‘not this time, not this way’. Too many women have been taught and controlled by the belief that this cannot be true, that we have the right to say no, even to love. The repercussions of this controlling belief have been frighteningly vast. Indeed, it is perhaps this belief, thrust upon us, that enslaves the power of love within us all.

 

I believe the error in judgment often made regarding abortion is that the decision is one made callously, unfeeling, unaware. I can understand that logical leap in rationale for indeed that is how we make most of our decisions in this life, unaware, never considering the cost, human and otherwise, of our actions or inactions. We rarely look closely at how the choice we make in this particular moment affects human suffering. We rarely so deeply appreciate the reciprocality and the sacredness of life given and taken that is our existence here. We rarely acknowledge the presence of grace. We rarely feel. 

 

Before you judge the woman who chooses abortion, ask yourself honestly, and really find out, how many of your own choices this very day have denied life somewhere. Then ask yourself how many of those choices were truly for survival. So often this is the criterion thrown at women as the dividing line between right and wrong abortion. Ask yourself, what does it truly mean to survive….

 

In our material world, where we value only the physical, the bodily manifestation of the unborn child for instance, we choose also to see survival as merely physical. Therefore, if the physical body of the mother and child keeps functioning, life is preserved. Ah, but we all hope in the deepest recesses of our being that life is more than that, do we not? Is it possible for just a moment to broaden that limited vision of survival to include mental, emotional, spiritual survival? Is it possible to value the life and death of hope, of passion, of feeling, of spirit as highly? Can we hold that measuring stick up for determining the outcome of life for the unborn child and its mother? Do we really want for them mere physical survival?

 

Do I believe the child I chose to abort did not survive? If I believe that spirit infuses and surrounds every cell of being on this planet, which I do, then I have to believe that somehow the soul of that growing embryo communed with the soul of my being intimately within that time and space and continues to do so today. There was much given and received, much divine love and human fear, much understanding and grace. There was invitation offered and rejected; choice made and accepted. There was presence, there was movement, there was growth, there was departure, there was loss. There was grief……

 

There was moving on to a new way of being in the world… for both of us.

 

Likewise, as I gaze lovingly today at the child I chose not to abort, am I grateful that I said yes to that invitation? Of course. This child has blessed my life, as I trust that I have his, as we have nurtured and accompanied one another even for this short while along this path of life, this journey of learning about, and growing in, Love. But, looking at him, do I for one moment believe that God would waste the energy of love that is this child by removing it forever from the cosmos? No, he would surely have appeared someplace else and lived a life of growing, giving, and receiving love, even as I believe the child to whom I whispered ‘no’ is doing today somewhere as well. This is always one of my frustrations when the lists appear of highly influential or powerfully loving human beings who may not have been here had their mothers chosen to abort them. For this again makes God, the workings of the universe, much too peripheral and small and the choices of mankind much too central and self-elevated. (Isn’t it ironic that the Hitlers and the Dahmers never appear on such lists? We choose to deny that the type of world into which a being is welcomed and nurtured has more impact upon his existence than does the choice to allow that entrance or not)

 

Nothing is eliminated, ever. We know that. Nature reveals this. Our science affirms it. Our theologies seek to explain it. Life is broken down to be transformed into life again. Each time I sit down at my plate, I am to remember that the bread I eat is due to sacrifice and to be grateful for, and respectful of, it as I am likewise asked to give of myself in return.  Until I appreciate the sacrifice and survival needs, the love and fear, on both sides I am destined to live a closed life, in which the food upon my plate will never nourish, nor help me grow. Until we see the humanity, the suffering and the wounds, within the one whose life and views and choices look so different from our own, we are destined to a world of demons and divisions of our own making.  Until I can see the humanity in the face of a woman, a daughter, a mother, who chooses abortion, understand both the sacrifice and suffering, the vastness of the fear and love, I too easily can demonize and judge from my lofty sense of righteousness, disconnected from her life, from her humanity, the earthiness of her flesh, disconnected from God, from Love and its ways.

 

Of course, it is the poor who will suffer should Roe v Wade be reversed, as they always do at the hands and the devaluing judgments of the rich.  We rich, (and yes, if you are reading this you probably are) in our anesthetized, disconnected existence will still afford the luxury of choice. Already, in Texas, the cost of abortion has quadrupled due to government regulations. Immediately, images inspired by the song, Lady Madonna, materialize… baby at breast, wonder how she’ll manage to feed the rest…when a government disallows abortion, while at the same time, limiting access to healthcare, adequate paying jobs, and contraceptive education. However, illegalization, combined with the oppressive stigmatization induced by religion, will also likely force our middle class daughters back into secrecy and shame, into a place where dialogue with God and healing may never take place, a place where fear once again, rather than love, reigns. Thus, the stigmas of legalism add the possibility of injury to insult.

 

We have been told that the current president believes in a culture of life, one that welcomes every child into the world. I wonder what his definition of welcome is, and how he plans to enforce that. Does he intend to provide housing, food, healthcare, education, safety to the infant born to the poor mother of 4, who lives in a neighborhood of violence, whose husband has disappeared, and whose oldest is being indoctrinated into a culture of the streets in order to survive? How does he intend to encourage welcome to the Palestinian child waiting to be born at Isreali checkpoints, the Sudanese baby born as a result of the systematic, genocidal, raping of its women, the Iraqi child whose village is bombed because it may possibly be harboring terrorists? How is our American ‘culture of life’ allowing or contributing to these babies’ realities?  How is a culture that values life one that sends a man to prison for life for burning precious SUV’s while men who beat their wives get temporary restraining orders? How does a culture of life wage war, wielding fear as both a weapon of control and a shield, which allows its people to look the other way from their own atrocities?  How is a culture of life one that denies hope for a quality of existence beyond mere survival by restricting a research that cooperates with the preciously offered, sacred seeds of life? How is a culture of life one that withdraws for three years running, the $34 million of promised funding to the United Nations Population Fund, earmarked for HIV/AIDS education, sterile birthing kits (to protect the newborn) and contraception information to poor women around the world? How is a culture of life one whose corporations, the modern day equivalent of plantation owners, exploit the world’s human labor in sweatshops so that we can enjoy a closet full of clothes and toys? I just don’t get it, Mr. President. We say one thing, but do another… but we are never wavering. We ignore the vastness of the suffering that we can’t see, which is inextricably intertwined with our life choices, then focus and divert our attention upon the choice of an individual whose decision causes the suffering perhaps only of herself and maybe even spares the suffering of her unborn child.

 

Would I not rather have a village where each child is welcomed, loved, nurtured, provided for, and celebrated as gift? Oh yes. Deep, deep, yes. Would I rather never know a woman-child alone again in fear upon the table, there because she is afraid of punishment and judgment, or of abandonment, indeed because her kind is not welcome in the world? Would I not rather have her surrounded and embraced by the women and the men of her village and her world, who love her and will provide for her and the child after it arrives? Oh, yes, and yes, and yes. Would I rather that no child be brought into this world because of, or in the midst of, violence, oppression, degradation? Would I rather never have a child be born into abusive relationships within his home, his community, or his world? Would I rather never have a child be received into a home, or land, which is occupied by either terror or enemy? Yes. Would I not rather that there always be room at the inn rather than sacrifice of the forsaken? Yes.

 

This is where we rightly focus our attention, if we truly want every child to be born into a world, welcomed. These are the pro-life choices we ought be struggling for…. a world where our choices oppress none, so that all can freely choose life. Would we focus our efforts upon creating such a world, rather than upon hurling insult upon those already broken by despair; would we provide a planet of plenty…. love, support, compassion, food, healthcare, safety… welcome without judgment…. rather than riches for the few and exploitation of the many, the choice to deny life would never need be made. Sadly, I fear that as long as our largest and most powerful continue to take what is not needed, our smallest and weakest will continue to be sacrificed. Until we understand the suffering in this world, we will never reach the place where we can truly celebrate this choice of life.

 

 

Post Scripts- Responses I have received

responses to abortion article

Vicki,
Thank you for your posting. It has caused me to do some serious thinking. How many times have we judged someone because they did not meet our standards, and then have something happen to our loved ones?
About 50 years ago my sister-in-law married a Jew. Her mother felt that she had lost a daughter and her family. In later years when she became acquainted with the young man she was able to put aside her hatred of the race. Some 30 years ago my daughter was the first in my entire family to be divorced. I understood her reasons and loved her through it. She was in a much better situation. That cannot be said for the larger family, nor the church. When another in the family divorced they could more easily understand. Friends of mine had been very vocal in opposition to homosexuals, and then found that their beloved son was gay. That took a long time to be even mentionable in their presence. A young girl while still in high school became pregnant. Her grandfather disowned her until another of his grand daughters was in the same situation and he realized that they were still loveable people.

Vicki, I believe that your willingness to so admirably share your story will help all of us be more loving and understanding. May you be Blessed

Phyllis Howard Idaho

Thank you, Vicki, for your heartfelt response. You have delineated many of the reasons why choice is so important. I appreciate your vulnerability in posting your response. Best wishes to you and your family.
Jan Eller

Dear vicki,

Thank you for your post, and for pointing out the inconsistencies in the abortion struggle against the backdrop of human suffering.
I appreciate very much you stepping out to share your thoughts with the
group.
Lisa Baker
Union City, IN

Vicki,

thank you for sharing this eloquent, thoughtful and thought provoking essay with us.

Jim Vaughn
Arlington VA
MAD

Wow! Vicki and Mom (Evelyn),

I want to give you, Vicki, a special “Thank you” for how you have modeled very personal and from-your-heart sharing.

Vicki,
Thank you for your posting. It has caused me to do some serious thinking. How many times have we judged someone because they did not meet our standards, and then have something happen to our loved ones?
About 50 years ago my sister-in-law married a Jew. Her mother felt that she had lost a daughter and her family. In later years when she became acquainted with the young man she was able to put aside her hatred of the race. Some 30 years ago my daughter was the first in my entire family to be divorced.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Kyra On The Go

Adventures of a Paddling Triathlete

an algonquin affair

tales of one woman's ongoing love affair with the waters of Algonquin Park.

Abbey of the Arts

Transformative Living through Contemplative & Expressive Arts

Canoeguy's Blog

For those interested in restoring wood-canvas canoes

Nature's Place

The place of Nature in the 'ordinary' Spiritual Life through Meditation using Macro Photography to illustrate.

Katrina Kenison

celebrating the gift of each ordinary day

UnTangled

tell a redemptive story with your life. now.

%d bloggers like this: